By David Crow, L.Ac.
Use essential oils on a hot compress, in diffusers, or in hot water for inhalation. The standard dose is 10 drops.
Best for respiratory, sinus problems, and headaches.
Prolonged inhalation of concentrated essential oils can cause headaches, vertigo, dizziness, nausea, and lethargy.
The best way to use essential oils in the bath is to mix them first with salts or an emulsifier such as milk or sesame oil. Aromatic bath salts disperse the oils safely into the water, while milk and sesame oil emulsify the essential oil so it disperses.
Without salts or an emulsifier, drops of essential oils will float on the water and then get directly on the skin. Combined with the heat of the water, this can cause dermotoxicity, especially if the oils are of a heating nature.
Recommended Herbs in the Bath:
The oils that are generally considered mild and safe for bath are lavender oil, clary sage oil, rose oil, geranium oil, frankincense oil, sandalwood oil, eucalyptus oil, and conifers such as cedar oil, fir oil, pine oil, pinon pine essential oil, spruce oil, and juniper oil — to name a few.
A generally safe dose is 5 - 10 drops, mixed with ½ to 1 cup of salt or emulsifier.
Herbs to Avoid in Baths:
Avoid spicy oils such as cinnamon oil, oregano oil, thyme oil, and tulsi; phototoxic oils such as citruses, especially bergamot oil, and those with specific irritant potential such as lemongrass oil.
Aromatic baths are excellent for skin problems, circulatory problems, respiratory symptoms, stress and nervous tension, insomnia, muscular discomfort, and menstrual pain.
To avoid irritation, use only mild, non-irritating oils in the bath like lavender oil and clary sage oil.
10 drops of oil in 4 oz. of hot water. Soak the cloth and wrap.
Good for bruises, wounds, muscular aches and pains, dysmenorrhea, and skin problems.
1- 5 drops of hot water in a pot. Then cover your head with a towel to steam your face.
Excellent for opening sinuses, headaches, and as a skin treatment.
Pure essential oils are about 70 times more concentrated than the plant itself. Dilutions are typically 2% - 10%.
A 2.5% dilution is most often recommended for adults. For children under 12, 1% is generally safe. A 2.5% blend for a 1 ounce bottle of carrier oil is 15 drops of essential oil.
1% blend = 6 drops per oz
2% blend = 12 drops per oz
3% blend = 18 drops per oz
5% blend = 30 drops per oz
10% blend = 60 drops per oz
Direct Palm Inhalation
Caution: This method of use should only be done with oils that can be safely applied to the skin (see the toxicology and safety section below).
Apply 1-2 drops of oil to the palms, rub together gently, and inhale deeply. This method is excellent for a quick and easy exposure to the anti-microbial properties and other therapeutic uses of essential oils.
Usually a heat-resistant vessel for water and essential oils, and a heat resistant platform that holds the vessel over a small candle.
Advantages: Very simple to use; provides light background fragrancing.
Disadvantages: Does not produce strong concentration for therapeutic benefits.
Electric Heat Diffusers
Small absorbent pads are placed inside of a heating chamber with ventilation that allows the aromatic compounds to evaporate into the surrounding air.
Advantages: Easy to use; minimal maintenance; can diffuse thicker oils.
Disadvantages: Heat damages some aromatic compounds.
Cool Air Nebulizing Diffusers
A system that uses air pressure generated by a compressing unit to vaporize the essential oils. A glass nebulizing bulb serves as a condenser, allowing only the finest particles of the essential oil to escape into the air.
Advantages: Strong diffusion maximizes therapeutic benefits in respiratory conditions.
Disadvantages: Diffusers need to be cleaned regularly. More viscous oils cannot be diffused (such as sandalwood oil or ylang-ylang oil).
Electric heat and cool air nebulizers can be purchased with timers to produce intermittent diffusion. This reduces the amount of oil consumed, and prevents over-saturation in a room.